POTSDAM A 2009 Potsdam High School graduate has opened a tattoo parlor at 4 Main St., and he hopes his unique style will draw in customers despite the competition.
Andrew T. Norrell has been interested in photography, illustration and body art ever since he was a child. He picked up photography while at Potsdam High School. In 2010, he began a tattoo apprenticeship at Skin Circus in Watertown.
The industry has really changed a lot in the last 10 to 20 years, and I found out that I could do a lot of the things I wanted to do, he said.
He opened Heartbeat Illustrations on Main Street in May, using the money he saved from doing tattoos at other places over the last three years to fund his venture.
The store had been vacant since former tenants St. Lawrence Chocolates closed in November. Furnishings and decorations are still sparse. A paint job is in progress, and a counter is under construction.
Mr. Norrell said he is taking renovations slow and steady, making sure he can afford improvements before he takes the plunge.
Ive been up and down with debt before, and its not fun, he said.
He expected to lose money in the slower summer months waiting for students, who are more likely to spend on body art, to return. However, he was pleasantly surprised to find that he was able to break even in his first two months.
Although he also offers photo portraits and illustrations, tattoos have provided the bulk of his business so far.
He has competition. There are other tattoo parlors in Potsdam and nearby communities. But Mr. Norrell said he thinks he has what it takes to stand out and coexist with his fellow body artists.
Its no longer really about who is better than who. Its about finding an artist you like, he said.
He described his own style as new school, veering away from traditional designs to focus on 3-D imagery and bright colors. While some tattoo shops line their walls with a collection of standard designs for customers to peruse, Mr. Norrell said he would rather work with customers to create one-of-a-kind designs.
He said he hopes to have a photo portrait studio in his shop by this winter, and he also plans to offer his drawing skills to local businesses looking for custom illustrations.
Heartbeat Illustrations is open 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The phone number is 261-3475, and its website is www.heartbeatillustrations.com.